Front page of the paper this morning: Warren Riley’s mug and the headline, “Officials say city making headway against crime.” Apparently the superintendent and the mayor had a press conference on Friday to “reassure” us. I don’t feel reassured, and here’s why.
From the article:
At the news conference, evidence and numbers detailing any success resulting from the new initiatives were scant, except in the area of vehicle checkpoints.
Police are conducting traffic stops every night, Riley said. So far, the effort has produced more than 1,600 citations, 24 narcotics arrests and 35 arrests on outstanding warrants.
To date, 15 people have been murdered in the city this year. One of those homicides, the slaying of Jealina Brown, 22, has resulted in an arrest.
I’m not sure if that murder count includes the shooting of a Marrero man that took last night a few blocks from our home. But that’s not the number that got my attention. I noticed the 1,600 citations and the 35 arrests. I also noticed the numbers that aren’t there. There’s no breakdown on what those citations were for. There’s no breakdown on the nature of those arrests.
Anecdotally, I’m hearing about citations being issued at these checkpoints for minor violations like tinted windows, or even completely invented stuff. A friend of mine was issued a citation for an “open container” which he didn’t have. I suspect a good number of those 35 arrests are for things like outstanding traffic tickets. Pardon my skepticism, but I’ve learned that’s how we do things in Orleans Parish. Killers go free, but if you have an unpaid ticket you’ll go to prison.
Turning to the op-ed page, a letter to the editor from Steven Lindsley bears out the worst of my fears:
About a week after attending a rally at City Hall to protest violent crime in New Orleans, I was stopped by a patrol officer for having a suspended license. In spite of my explanation that this charge had been resolved by my attorney in November in Jefferson Parish, and that I was 64 years old and very tired from working 10 hours that day, I was ordered into a police car and taken to Central Lockup to be “fast-tracked” for a new court date.
I was searched and then put in a cage with over 50 other accused criminals. This holding pen had four wooden benches, a urinal and no place to sit for the 30-plus latecomers. Fifteen people had to lie on the concrete floor and the rest of us had to stand.
At 3 a.m., I was finally able to contact my wife to come bail me out, but it was not until 7:30 a.m. that I was released…
Is this an example of Police Chief Warren Riley’s program to crack down on crime in Orleans Parish?
If so, I will soon be putting my recently renovated home on the market and joining the long line of disaffected New Orleanians who have tired of the ineptitude, stupidity, rudeness, mismanagement and lack of effective leadership in the city.
Until I see numbers to the contrary, I continue to believe that checkpoints and traffic stops are an ineffective approach that only serves to alienate law-abiding citizens.